Travel Accessories

Choosing a New Laptop Case

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Some things I love shopping for. Other things I hope will never need to be replaced. My laptop bag was one of them.

Not that it was wonderful, it was a plain black American Tourister laptop bag almost 9 years old. Now kind of ratty. Serviceable, made better with a Tom Bihn Absolute strap, and could comfortably accommodate almost everything I wanted including my travel wallet, kindle, iPad, books, laptop, camera, and assorted cords. A year ago, part of the zipper on the side detached, meaning I could never unzip it fully but had room to unzip the top and one of the sides.

6 weeks ago, the other zipper broke and that section accordioned open to the world. <pout>. Just about to leave the country, I managed to fix the zipper and get on with life. It has then proceeded to break repeatedly at inopportune times, with the repair taking successively longer.

Several weeks ago I started looking. I quickly vetoed the “girl laptop satchels.” I love a beautiful handbag as much as the next, but I like to keep purse and laptop case separate since I use mine for work 80% of the time. So now I was in the world of professional laptop cases, which only narrowed my options down to about 5,000.

One of my friends swears by his Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer bag. It’s good quality, expensive ($220), but my search would be done. So I took one more look in person before purchasing.  I realized I had a preference for top-loading. And it looked bulky and masculine. At which comment my friend raised an eyebrow and gave several pointed, skeptical stares at my current bag. Whatever. 🙂

So this weekend I realized I need to figure out what my preferences actually were:

  • How important are outer pockets?
    Very. When traveling I like to use the outer pocket as a substitute for my purse so I can get easy access to tickets, chapstick, my wallet, etc.
  • Do I need TSA friendly?
    Not a deal breaker, but it would be really handy when opting out not to have my laptop sitting exposed in a bin.
  • Ability to attach to rollerboard?
    Ideal, but not essential. I use it sometimes, other times it makes it harder to quickly pick up my suitcase on stairs or down aisles.
  • How many things do I need it to hold?
    I don’t use it as an overnight bag, but I do need to be able to carry books, files, Kindle, iPad, laptop, cameras, cords, travel wallet, snacks. Maybe the kitchen sink if it’s a small one.
  • Top or side loading?
    Don’t know why, I just prefer top loading.
  • Size constraints?
    Never occured to me, but I need the bag to fit comfortably under airline seats. Reviewers noted that some were on the large side. And honestly, the more compact the better from an aesthetic point of view.
  • Color?
    Subdued, but not important.

So after this useful exercise, I promptly checked to see if I could buy my current version. Boo. So my first step was to look on at their laptop case reviews, from there I read subsequent user reviews on Amazon and Newegg getting a feel for brands as well as specific models.

I toyed with the cheaper versions offered by Case Logic before ultimately landing on the Targus Checkpoint-Friendly 13” Ultra-Lite Corporate Traveler Laptop Case.

Review of Targus Checkpoint-Friendly 13” Ultra-Lite Corporate Traveler Laptop Case

I’m a little worried about the placement of the shoulder strap, but everything else looks good. It was $61 through NewEgg plus I could get 2 points/$ through the Ultimate Rewards Shopping Mall and free 2 day shipping ($10 savings) with ShopRunner. But overnight it sold out, so I wound up going through Amazon prime for $74 plus 1 Hawaiian Air mile/$.

It’s arriving in the next day or two, so I’ll let you know how it turns out.


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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